Throughout the entire Tormenta FC organization, the constant mantra is that the squads expect to win and to compete for championships.
So far, so good.
Last weekend, Tormenta 2 — the club’s USL League Two side — travelled to rival S.C. United Bantams with the Deep South Division title on the line. Tormenta needed only a draw to earn its second consecutive division crown, but instead closed the regular season with style, notching a 1-0 win to take the season series over the Bantams.
More importantly, the result locked up Tormenta’s second straight trip to the Southern Conference playoffs and a chance to take a step forward from last season. In 2018, Tormenta went undefeated in the regular season, only to see its season end in the conference semifinals on its home turf as it dropped a 1-0 contest to The Villages S.C.
As luck would have it, when Tormenta takes the field in Columbia, S.C. today, it will be the same Villages squad - fresh off of a Southeast Division championship - awaiting them for a chance to play for the conference title.
“It’s exciting and a great opportunity for us,” Tormenta 2 coach Ian Cameron said. “As the season has gone on, we’ve really grown in a tactical sense. Now we go up against a very good opponent with a lot on the line.”
If there are any edges to be had going into the match, Tormenta might be able to bring some additional confidence due to having one of the toughest roads to the playoffs. The three division winners in the Southern Conference all advance to the four-team tournament, with the second place team that totaled the most regular season points getting the wild card spot.
The last team in was S.C. United, and with the conference’s setup not affording any inter-conference regular season matchups, Tormenta and Bantams are the only teams to have gone up against a playoff team earlier this season (with Tormenta going 2-1 in three meetings).
“I think it’s a testament to the strength of our division and the quality of both our team and Bantams that we’re both in the playoffs,” Cameron said. “It obviously will help to know that we’ve been tested by a very good team all season. Then again, there are only very good teams still remaining, so we’ll have to be at our best if we want to move forward.”
Working towards the national tournament and getting a shot at evening the score with The Villages should have Tormenta at full attention, but there is even more incentive for the squad. While today’s semifinals and Sunday’s conference championship will be played at the Bantams’ home park, a Tormenta win would see them earn the right to host the national semifinals and finals at Erk Russell Park.
“That’s definitely something to work towards,” Cameron said. “It’s going to be important how we approach this next game. We have a couple of guys who went to the College Cup with Akron last fall and plenty of others who have been in tournament play before, we’re going to have them share their experiences and hopefully get out guys on the same page about how we’re going to have to play in order to succeed.”
Kickoff for today’s game is set for 5 p.m. Following the match between Tormenta and The Villages, S.C. United will face Mid South Division champion Brazos Valley Cavalry F.C.